Thought Police Establish Australian Beachhead

Prime Minister Tony Abbott Proposes Stripping Citizenship

Prime Minister Tony Abbott addressed National Security at the Australian Federal Police H

EXTRAORDINARY powers to strip citizenship from Australians supporting terrorist groups are set to get cross-party support in Parliament.

Australia (2-22-15) – 1984 is beginning to look like the good ol’ days. Torture (“We had to know what they were THINKING!” -G. Bush-) and extraordinary rendition are no longer enough in our march toward collateral damage and LOVE for Big Brother. Obedience in insufficient. Now, even LOVE is insufficient. We must rid ourselves of those pesky double-ungoodthinkful thoughts that so disturb our leaders because they are now defacto crimes and are being treated as such by the ‘authorities’ who, naturally, want to protect us from ‘terrorists’…this would include those who haven’t actually DONE anything visibly illegal, but are suspected of ‘wanting’ to or at least sympathizing with those who do. Buying an airline ticket or announcing a pending wedding date to a suspect groom is now enough to land you in prison to do hard time…even in America where 1st Amendment principles (in theory) are held sacred and enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Conceivably, Bin Laden’s shoe shine boy could end up doing hard time–or worse.

Admittedly, there are some pretty bad actors out there–even in Australia. They relish shocking the world’s conscience, alarming all and antagonizing virtually every sentient human being. Unfortunately, management by crisis historically has not brought out the best in American sensibilities or its allies. Witness the WWII interment of Japanese-Americans (complete with the looting of their property, home, and bank accounts) or the McCarthy hearings of the early 50’s. Mischief is once again afoot in the guise of totalitarian midnight door knocks/battering and the monitoring of every communication, transaction, purchase, movement.

Enter Tony Abbott, Australia’s prime minister seeking to bring safety/security to his homeland at the expense of civil rights and fundamental liberties. Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s security statement, centered on the threat of the IS “death cult” today carefully avoided wrecking the bipartisan stance with Labor on measures to fight terrorists. Apparently, in an era of state sponsored terrorism, extraordinary renditions, and collateral damage, ordinary governments bridle at the competition. Saudia Arabia can behead miscreants with abandon, American drones can destroy entire wedding parties, U.S. helicopters can cut down photojournalists with 50-caliber machine gun fire while sneering at the victim’s dead/wounded children. Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, etc. can strap down the condemned for real time experiments in how to clinically terminate their lives with injected but questionable poisons as they writhe, sometimes gasping for breath for over 40 minutes. Water boarding is defended as a ‘humane’ form of torture, or at least “effective”. But now that the bad guys are using the internet to proselytize/recruit–well, the velvet gloves are coming off!

“We have seen on our TV screens and in our newspapers the evidence of the new dark age that has settled over much of Syria and Iraq,” said Mr Abbott, standing in front of six Australian flags at the Australian Federal Police headquarters in Canberra.

He said: “There is no grievance here that can be addressed; there is no cause here that can be satisfied; it is the demand to submit — or die.” [The irony here just won’t quit!]

The Prime Minister reproduced the thoughts of many Australians who believe citizenship “is not a one-way street” and said Australians battling with Islamic State forces “have sided against their country and should be treated accordingly”, though it’s not certain where such boundaries (if any) lie. Presumably, since even helping set up a website or remonstrating over the grievances many Islamic people harbor is enough to get you thrown into an American prison, even the hint/suspicion of insufficient love for Big Brother will result in our Australian cousins being stripped of either their citizenship or their right to be acknowledged as having it.

“Those who come here must be as open and accepting of their adopted country, as we are of them. Those who live here must be as tolerant of others as we are of them,” opined the Prime Minister. The irony of such ‘acceptance’ appears to have eluded the Prime Minister. “No one should live in our country while denying our values and rejecting the very idea of a free and open society,” he said. i.e. Terrorists should not reject our ‘values’, but we, ourselves, may accomplish the same end by government fiat. We may condone, collectively, what we condemn individually. The imprimatur of government washes away all sins–even the stain of torture. The question of what the point was in beating the Nazis only to become just like them is never asked. Any good Nazi of that era would have argued they too were fighting ‘terrorists’ (or Jews according to them…another Semitic people).

Mr Abbott said amendments to the Australian Citizenship Act would revoke or suspend Australian citizenship in the case of dual nationals.

Australian nationals could be denied “some of the privileges of citizenship” if they are “individuals involved in terrorism”.

These could include restricting the ability to leave or return to Australia, and access to consular services overseas, as well as access to welfare payments. The Prime Minister argued these measures would prevent possible ‘terrorists’ getting the benefit of the doubt. These measures include the legislation for the storage of metadata — material taken from the private communications of individuals — for two years, a move urged by intelligence agencies. Mr Abbott said (referencing killerMan Haron Monis) : “It’s clear that in too many instances the threshold for action was set too high — and the only beneficiary of that was the Martin Place murderer himself.”

“For too long, we have given those who might be a threat to our country the benefit of the doubt. The perpetrator was given the benefit of the doubt when he applied for a visa. He was given the benefit of the doubt for residency and citizenship. He was given the benefit of the doubt at Centrelink. He was given the benefit of the doubt when he applied for legal aid. And in the courts, there has been bail, when there should have been jail,” Abbott continued.

The Prime Minister ended with a pledge to the public: “I can’t promise that terrorist atrocities won’t ever again take place on Australian soil. But let me give you this assurance: My Government will never underestimate the threat. We will make the difficult decisions that must be taken to keep you and your family safe.”

That’s right–a country with the strictest gun control laws in the world now is destined to become a giant concentration camp for its own citizens (with the U.S. and Britain following close on its heels in this regard) if they reject or are insufficiently sympathetic to its “values”. What’s truly at work here is akin to the mystery alien object beneath the sea in a movie that starred Dustin Hoffman–THE SPHERE. ISIS and its minions has become a malevolent mirror reflecting our own fears, aggression, violence, injustice and state sponsored terrorism. The more we target it, the stronger it becomes and the greater our own peril. We must leave 20th century thinking (e.g. MAD: the Mutually Assured Destruction of the nuclear arms race in the cold war) behind. We are NOT going to be able to kill our way out of this war. We are not going to prevail by being the more powerful terrorist. ISIS understands this and has beaten us at our own game. Our leaders, unfortunately, are engrossed–as most generals are–in fighting the last war. The enemy we must defeat is not without, but within.

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Shelton LEO Chris Kostad shoots, kills barking dog

Shelton, WA (2-12-15) – Detective Christopher N. Kostad is a lucky man married to a beautiful, charming wife (Nicole K. Kostad) and her stunningly precocious daughter, McKenna. The problem is officer Kostad exhibits a pattern of poor judgment and gratuitous violence in his capacity as a police officer.

Natalie Johnson (of the Shelton Journal) reports Kostad shot and killed a family dog (black Labrador) while responding to a 911 call 2-2-15. His superiors have exonerated his actions claiming he did nothing that violated State law or department policy. The dog was a 13-year old family pet named Buck. Danna Kamppi stated an online petition to fire and prosecute Kostad has gathered over 1,500 signatures from outraged dog lovers. Danna eulogized Buck as a “good, happy dog”.  “My dog was shot for barking at a stranger,” she said.

Jack Miles, a previously elected public official with the Port of Shelton had the following observations about Kostad: “…But when people like me who testified against CHRIS KOSTAD, a Shelton, WA COP, who I witnessed assault a suspect, while in custody. The suspect was face down.  KOSTAD had a boot on the suspects back, then drove that same boot into the back of his head knocking him out and breaking his jaw. I knew officer KOSTAD in general, having been an elected official at the Port of Shelton. In fact, I knew most of the law enforcement personnel in the Shelton-Mason County area. However, my character was attacked. I was intimidated one night while driving.

One elderly woman was driving Kostad’s mother-in-law to his home a few years ago. She recounted how Kostad approached her vehicle with drawn pistol, not being familiar with the vehicle or its driver. Officer Kostad appears to be entirely too fond of touching his gun, gratuitous excess as a LEO, and poor judgment. After the boot kicking incident referenced above (followed by a federal lawsuit naming Kostad as a defendant), he was promoted to detective in the Shelton police dept.

Kostad stated in his report the dog (Buck) approached him and was within 6 feet, ears pinned back and teeth bared when he shot him. The owner (Kamppi) says buck was 10 feet from Kostad. An accompanying officer (Fiola) reported the dog had just stepped onto the city street when it was shot.

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Pasco LEO’s Gun Down Fleeing Rock Thrower

by Curtis Skinner

Pasco, WA (2-12-15) — Police in Washington state shot a man to death who threw rocks at them, officials said on Wednesday, as a video published online appearing to show the incident drew criticism of the officers’ actions.

The police shooting in Pasco, Washington comes amid heightened tension across the country in the wake of high-profile police killings of unarmed minorities, particularly in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City.

Officers Ryan Flanagan, Adam Wright, and Adrian Alaniz arrived at the parking lot of a Fiesta Foods grocery store around 5 p.m. local time on Tuesday, where suspect Antonio Zambrano-Montes threw rocks at them, Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger said in a statement.

The officers attempted to use a stun gun to incapacitate Zambrano-Montes after he would not obey commands to surrender, before they opened fire and killed him, the statement said.

A video of the incident posted on YouTube and cited by local media showed the man running away from the three officers before he was killed.

In the 22-second video, the man moves across the street from the pursuing policemen. He turns to face them briefly, lifting his right arm as if to throw another object, when they open fire, according to the video.

Pasco Police Captain Ken Roske said when reached by Reuters on Wednesday night that the department had reviewed videos of the incident, but could not confirm their authenticity.

“They certainly look like the right intersections,” he said, adding that the Tri-City Special Investigation Unit would conduct a full probe into the shooting.

The Seattle Times, which linked to the video on its website, reported that a few dozen people gathered outside Pasco City Hall in protest of the shooting on Wednesday.

In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington called the incident “very disturbing,” the paper said.

“Fleeing from police and not following an officer’s command should not be sufficient for a person to get shot,” ACLU of Washington Director Kathleen Taylor said in a statement, according to the Seattle Times.

Two officers were hit by rocks in the incident, police said. They were treated at the scene, and the extent of their injuries was not provided.

The officers were placed on administrative leave, as per department policy, the statement said.

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Why our fundamental rights/liberties matter:

ThomasJefferson

Thomas Jefferson

“If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, and give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they do now, on oatmeal and potatoes, have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains around the necks of our fellow sufferers; And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second, that second for a third, and so on ’til the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering… And the forehorse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.”
-Thomas Jefferson-

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Malum Prohibitum Amerikan Style

Malum prohibitum (plural mala prohibita, literal translation: “wrong [as or because] prohibited”) is a Latin phrase used in law to refer to conduct that constitutes an unlawful act only by virtue of statute, as opposed to conduct evil in and of itself, or malum in se.

Conduct that is so clearly violative of society’s standards for allowable conduct that it is illegal under English common law is usually regarded as malum in se. An offense that is malum prohibitum may not appear on the face to directly violate moral standards. The distinction between these two cases is discussed in State of Washington v. Thaddius X. Anderson:

Criminal offenses can be broken down into two general categories malum in se and malum prohibitum. The distinction between malum in se and malum prohibitum offenses is best characterized as follows: a malum in se offense is “naturally evil as adjudged by the sense of a civilized community,” whereas a malum prohibitum offense is wrong only because a statute makes it so. State v. Horton, 139 N.C. 588, 51 S.E. 945, 946 (1905).
“Public welfare offenses” are a subset of malum prohibitum offenses as they are typically regulatory in nature and often “‘result in no direct or immediate injury to person or property but merely create the danger or probability of it which the law seeks to minimize.'” Bash, 130 Wn.2d at 607 (quoting Morissette v. United States, 342 U.S. 246, 255-56, 72 S. Ct. 240, 96 L. Ed. 288 (1952)); see also State v. Carty, 27 Wn. App. 715, 717, 620 P.2d 137 (1980).

Crimes and torts that might be considered as malum prohibitum—but not malum in se—include:

  • building or modifying a house without a license
  • copyright infringement
  • illegal drug use
  • illegal hunting
  • operating a business without a license
  • prohibition of alcohol
  • surrogacy for profit
  • weapon possession
  • illegal immigration
  • harboring a bad attitude toward American foreign policy?
  • traveling abroad to destinations disfavored by the U.S. government?
  • donating $ without the U.S. administration’s blessings?
  • buying air fare without the U.S. government’s approval?
  • having foreign bank accounts without informing Uncle Sam?
  • failing to apply for a social security number for yourself or your children?
  • purchasing a weapon to defend yourself if you’ve ever run afoul of malum prohibitum?
  • possessing a bullet proof vest in Oregon by a convicted felon? (increasingly inclusive)
  • driving while black?
  • insufficient submissiveness to authority or the police?
  • homelessness? poverty in all but name only?
  • ridiculing the emperor’s new clothes?
  • feeding the hungry without the City’s ‘permit’/permission?

The thought police are actively ferreting out those with ‘ungoodthinkful’ sentiments, or (even worse) donating their own money for the ‘wrong’ reasons. Never mind that money is fungible or that we condemn individual acts we condone collectively. In fact, it is historically rare for the U.S. to be at peace. The vast majority of the time since its inception, we’ve been at war with someone or engaged in genocidal confrontations.

What you do on the internet, social media, or even what books you buy, read, or check out at the library are of keen interest to the federal thought police. Nor is it enough that they have your social security/driver’s license number, vehicle registration, credit reports (which they check routinely) as well as all your banking records and earnings/income data. The sad truth is a government supposedly of the people, by the people, and FOR the people knows much more about you than your own mother/father/spouse/children. Virtually all States now want your DNA too for even the most petty of not just offenses/infractions, but ALLEGATIONS!

Allegations, nothing more, are also now sufficient to be banned from public housing or assistance under contemporary U.S. regulations. Refusing to register for the draft will earn you persona non-grata status for any student loans or education assistance. It has become increasingly perilous not only to disobey Big Brother, but to fail to demonstrate sufficient ‘love’ for him as well.

St. Louis, MO – The Christian Science Monitor recently reported 6 Bosnian immigrants have been arrested after being accused of helping ISIS and Al Qaeda by sending $ and/or ‘military equipment’ to ‘terrorist fighters’ (non-state sponsored ones or at least ones unapproved by U.S. authorities) overseas, including the Islamic State group and Al Qaeda in Iraq.

An indictment was unsealed Friday in the St Louis U.S. District Court which said the defendants gave money themselves and sometimes collected funds from others to send the donations overseas. It charges two of the defendants used some of that money to purchase U.S. military uniforms, firearms ‘accessories’, tactical gear et al, which was sent to folks in Turkey and Saudi Arabia who forwarded the supplies to terrorists. [FedEX? One must wonder why a ‘terrorist’ would want to be caught wearing a U.S. military uniform?]

The feds claim the supplies and money [contraban?] eventually made its way to fighters in Syria, Iraq and ‘elsewhere’, according to the indictment’s allegations. Money also was sent to support family members of terrorist fighters, the indictment says. [This is a ‘crime’?!] The defendants all knew where the money and supplies were going, the indictment claims. [This beats the track record of most phone solicitation charities!]

The indictment claims the ‘conspiracy’ began no later than May 2013, the defendants used email, phones and social media websites including Facebook to communicate using coded words, such as “brothers,” ”lions” and “Bosnian brothers.” [These were lifted from the same dictionary Reagan used when citing ‘Cadillac welfare queens’ and ‘peacekeeper’ missals…or his attorney general (Edwin Meese) pronouncing ketchup as a ‘vegetable’?]

All six charged are natives of Bosnia legally living in the U.S. Three are naturalized citizens; the others had either refugee or legal resident status, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Those indicted were Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40, his wife, Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35, and Armin Harcevic, 37, all from St. Louis County; Nihad Rosic, 26 of Utica, New York; Mediha Medy Salkicevic, 34, of Schiller Park, Illinois, and Jasminka Ramic, 42, of Rockford, Illinois.

They face charges of conspiring to provide material support and resources to ‘terrorists’ and with providing material support to ‘terrorists’. Rosic and Ramiz Hodzic are also charged with conspiring to kill and maim people in a foreign country. [That last sounds like the government intensely dislikes competition in this category. The rest is obnoxiously vague/ambiguous as it does not cite the ‘terrorist(s)’ by name. One is forced to assume they’re delineated by ‘category’, though just who can properly and legally be construed to be in such an index remains unclear.]

The indictment says that last July, Rosic tried to board a flight from New York to Syria. [Hang him!]

The U.S. attorney’s office said five of the defendants have been arrested; the sixth is overseas, but the Justice Department declined to say exactly where. [Delivering parcels and good will? The U.S. could stand some fence mending.]

Online court records do not list defense attorneys for any of the defendants. [No doubt the esquires fear being charged with providing aid, comfort, and material resources to the ‘enemy’?] According to court records, the Hodzics had a first appearance before a U.S. magistrate judge in St. Louis on Friday and the court said it would appoint attorneys for them. [This will, no doubt, insure the defendants get a ‘fair’ trial after being charged with providing aid and comfort to terrorists–a bit like Benedict Arnold being nominated for President?]

The landlord at the complex where the Hodzics live told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the couple and their 3 children had been living there for 1 ½ years. Larry Sorth, and his wife, Joyce, stated they were surprised by the arrests and that the couple was friendly.

“She was very sweet, to tell you the truth,” Joyce Sorth said of Sedina Hodzic.

In a news release announcing the charges, the U.S. attorney’s office said the crimes of conspiring to provide material support and providing material support carry penalties ranging up to 15 years in prison. Conspiring to kill and maim people in a foreign country carries a penalty of up to life in prison.

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Why Are So Many Americans in Prison?–District Attorneys

Mule Creek State Prison

by Leon Neyfakh (a SLATE staff writer)

Criminal justice reform is a contentious political issue, but there’s one point on which pretty much everyone agrees: America’s prison population is way too high. It’s possible that a decline has already begun, with the number of state and federal inmates dropping for three years straight starting in 2010, from an all-time high of 1.62 million in 2009 to about 1.57 million in 2012. But change has been slow: Even if the downward trend continues, which is far from guaranteed, it could take almost 90 years for the country’s prison population to get down to where it was in 1980 unless the rate of decline speeds up significantly.

What can be done to make the population drop faster? Many reformers, operating under the assumption that mass incarceration is first and foremost the result of the war on drugs, have focused on making drug laws less punitive and getting rid of draconian sentencing laws that require judges to impose impossibly harsh punishments on people who have committed relatively minor crimes. But according to John Pfaff, an associate professor at Fordham Law School, neither of those efforts will make a significant dent in the problem, because they are based on a false understanding of why the prison boom happened in the first place. Having analyzed statistics on who goes to prison, why, and for how long, Pfaff has emerged with a new and provocative account of how the problem of mass incarceration came to be. If he’s right, the implications for the prison reform movement are huge and suggest the work needed to achieve real progress will be much harder than most people realize.

Pfaff explains his theory:

The U.S. prison population increased fivefold between 1980 and 2009—from approximately 320,000 inmates to 1.62 million. When you look at the work of scholars and the policymakers who are influenced by them, what do you see as the dominant explanations for why this happened?

One is that we’re sending people to prison for more and more and more time. The other is the war on drugs—that we’ve made this concerted effort to target people for drug dealing and drug possession, and we’re filling up our prisons with all of these drug-related offenses. The dominant view is that those two changes have transformed the size of the prison population in the United States.

What do you think of those two explanations?

I understand where they come from. It’s true that legislators have passed a lot of new, tougher sentencing laws over the past 30 or 40 years. And it’s true that we have increased the attention paid to drugs. But in the end, there are other things that play a much, much bigger role in explaining prison growth. The fact of the matter is in today’s state prisons, which hold about 90 percent of all of our prisoners, only 17 percent of the inmates are there primarily for drug charges. And about two-thirds are there for either property or violent crimes.

Has the percentage of drug offenders among the prison population been higher in the past?

It peaked in 1990 at 22 percent and then steadily declined. So even when the percentage of drug offenders among the state prison population was at its peak, about four out of every five people were there for a nondrug offense.

Why are you skeptical of the idea that longer sentences have been a significant driver of the prison boom?

Because while it’s true that legislators have passed a lot of longer sentences, if you actually look at time served by inmates in prison, it doesn’t appear to have changed that much. We have good data going back approximately 20 years or so, and at least in northern and northwestern states where we have better data, about half of all prisoners who get admitted in a given year only spend about two or three years in prison. And only about 10 percent serve more than about seven or eight years in prison. These laws look incredibly punitive—25 years for a class B felony—but you just don’t see people serving that amount of time.

OK. So if it’s not the drug war, and it’s not harsh sentencing laws, what is it? What do you think caused the prison boom?

You need to break the question into two periods. Because there’s a time between 1975 and 1991 when you see this dramatic rise in crime, and the prison population went up as well. And then there’s a more interesting period, between 1991 and 2010, when crime steadily declined, yet prison populations kept going up. So, between ’75 and ’91, it’s almost certain that the increase in crime had to play at least some significant role in increasing the prison population. The scale of the crime boom that took place was dramatic: From 1960 to 1991, violent crime rose by 400 percent, and property crime rose by 200 percent. Figuring out how much of prison growth can be attributed to the crime boom is actually statistically quite difficult, but the best estimate that’s out there—which is not a perfect estimate, but it’s the best we have—suggests that about half of prison growth during that period was due to rising crime. Clearly other stuff mattered, but rising crime played a very big role during the first phase.

So why did the prison population keep on rising after 1991, when the crime wave ended? It seems like if your theory is right, that the increase in violent crime and property crime caused the prison boom, the end of the crime wave should have been accompanied by decreasing incarceration rates. 

Three things could have happened. One, police just got much more efficient—they’re just arresting more and more people, with new policing technologies, new policing approaches—maybe they’re just arresting a bigger share of offenders. But we don’t actually see that. Arrests tend to drop with the crime rate. So the total number of people being arrested has fallen. The other thing it could be is we’re just locking people up for longer—but like I said, it’s not that. So clearly what’s happening is we’re just admitting more people to prison. Though we have a smaller pool of people being arrested, we’re sending a larger and larger number of them to prison.

Why would that be?

What appears to happen during this time—the years I look at are 1994 to 2008, just based on the data that’s available—is that the probability that a district attorneys file a felony charge against an arrestee goes from about 1 in 3, to 2 in 3. So over the course of the ’90s and 2000s, district attorneys just got much more aggressive in how they filed charges. Defendants who they would not have filed felony charges against before, they now are charging with felonies. I can’t tell you why they’re doing that. No one’s really got an answer to that yet. But it does seem that the number of felony cases filed shoots up very strongly, even as the number of arrests goes down.

Isn’t the traditional explanation for why prosecutors tend to be overzealous is that their political careers depend on it?

The political question is interesting because generally the district attorney election is not very difficult to win. DAs tend to win elections pretty regularly. So, when Joe Hynes was defeated in the Democratic primary in Brooklyn, New York, in 2012, he was the first sitting Brooklyn DA to run for re-election and lose in more than a century. But that’s not to say that politics don’t matter: Maybe it’s that next election they’re looking at, that they remain tough on crime because they want to become attorney general or governor. There’s no clear data on this. We’re only just starting to look at this question. But that strikes me as a possible story. What might have happened is the crime boom made being a prosecutor more of a launch-pad position—it elevated the status of prosecutors, and perhaps elevated their political ambitions, and they remained tough on crime even as crime started going down.

OK. So why does any of this matter? Why is it important for reformers to have the right theory for why mass incarceration happened?

The reason it’s important to get it right is that if we’re trying to reduce the prison population, we want to make sure we do it correctly—and if you focus on the wrong thing, you won’t solve the problem. So if you think it’s the war on drugs, you might think, ‘OK, if we just decriminalize drugs, that will solve the problem.’ And, you know, it’s true that if we shift away from punishment to treatment that could be a huge improvement. But just letting people out of prison—decarcerating drug offenders—will not reduce the prison population by as much as people think. If you released every person in prison on a drug charge today, our state prison population would drop from about 1.5 million to 1.2 million. So we’d still be the world’s largest incarcerating country; we’d still have an enormous prison population.

And if we focused on cutting back sentence lengths, maybe that would weaken DAs’ bargaining power at plea bargaining, but since people aren’t serving the massively long sentences anyway, it probably won’t have that big an effect on prison population either.

What would?

Well, the real growth in the prison population comes from county-level district attorneys sending violent people to prison. And there’s a lot to be said for nonprison approaches to a lot of people who are in prison for violent crimes. But that’s a political issue that we haven’t even begun to address, in part because it’s politically scary.

Where does that leave reformers who want to see the prison population drop significantly?

What makes it very hard is that the person we really need to target now—whose behavior we need to regulate—is the district attorney, and the district attorney is a very politically independent figure. He’s directly elected, and he’s directly elected at the county level. So there’s no big centralized fix. You can’t necessarily go to Washington and say, ‘Here’s the law that’s going to control what the DAs do,’ because they don’t have to listen to the federal government at all. So you have to figure out how to go county by county and either elect DAs who have less punitive attitudes, or you can try to sort of change the incentives DAs face at the state level. But it’s very tricky.

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Eric M. Collier of Shelton/Oly Charged w/23 Felonies/Robbery

EricMCollier1

Eric M. Collier, 35 (DOB: 6-17-79) w/fiance’ Trisha Davis (circa 9-19-14) 5549 Boston Harbor Rd, Oly, WA

Shelton, WA (1-29-15) — Natalie Johnson reported Eric M. Collier of Shelton was arrested and charged in Thurston County (1-23-15) w/23 felony counts alleging/relating to armed robberies including banks and restaurants, perhaps most notably the Pizza Time in Thurston.  He was arrested Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2014 after a massive investigation by numerous cooperating local and federal law enforcement agencies (Olympia PD, Pierce County Sheriff, Puyallup PD, Thurston County Sheriff, Kent PD, & the FBI) into the crimes alleged. They (courtesy of the Olympia PD) include the following:

Robberies Collier is accused in:
Sept. 20: Olympia Taco Bell is robbed. $15 and one cell phone reported stolen.
Sept. 20: Olympia Bank of America is robbed. $13,000 reported stolen.
Oct. 14: Olympia Pizza Time is robbed. $35 reported stolen.
Oct. 20: Olympia Pizza Time is robbed. Between $700 and $800 reported stolen.
Oct. 22: Spanaway Pizza Time is robbed. Between $500 and $1,000 reported stolen.
Oct. 27: Puyallup Pizza Time is robbed. Between $800 and $1,000 reported stolen.
Oct. 29: Kent Domino’s Pizza is robbed. $400 reported stolen.
Nov. 1: Thurston County Pizza Time is robbed, and suspect fires his gun.
Nov. 1: Spanaway Pizza Time is robbed. $500 reported stolen.
Nov. 26: Olympia Umpqua Bank is robbed. $10,000 reported stolen.
Dec. 3: Spanaway Umpqua Bank is robbed. $5,500 reported stolen.
Dec. 9: Spanaway Heritage Bank is robbed. $17,566 reported stolen.
Dec. 26: Olympia Federal Savings Bank is robbed. $9,935 reported stolen.
Jan. 6: Tacoma Umpqua Bank is robbed. $5,600 reported stolen.
Jan. 10: Lacey Columbia Bank is robbed. $6,654 reported stolen.
Jan. 20: Attempted robbery at Olympia Federal Savings Bank. Collier is arrested

The Olympian reported, according to court documents, Collier, a 35-year-old Shelton man (previously resided on Boston Harbor Rd. near Olympia) was accused of stealing about $60,000 in a string of Puget Sound bank and pizza restaurant robberies was arrested Tuesday night after a months-long investigation.

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Eric M. Collier(?), 35 (DOB: 6-17-79) 5549 Boston Harbor Rd NE, Oly, WA 98506; (360)943-1249(?)

Eric M. Collier was caught by the Olympia Police Department as he was allegedly attempting to rob yet another bank while armed. The 35-year-old Shelton man was booked into the Thurston County Jail on seven counts of first degree robbery while armed with a deadly weapon and two counts of first-degree attempted robbery.

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Eric Michael Collier tattoos sister-in-law, Buff,  circa May, 2011

Thurston County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Thompson said the nine counts of robbery and attempted robbery cover crimes committed in Thurston County. Other charges may be filed in other counties.

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Buff’s tatoo — in remembrance of Collier’s mother

The crime spree began Sept. 20 when Collier is suspected of robbing a west Olympia Taco Bell and a Bank of America, according to the Olympia Police Department. Since then, 14 similar robberies were reported at places throughout Thurston and Pierce counties, including Olympia, Lacey, Puyallup, Tacoma, Spanawayand Kent.

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Not the face of poverty.

Thompson said that in all his years as a deputy prosecutor, he’s never seen a defendant face so many robbery charges. At a Thurston County Superior Court hearing Wednesday, he asked Judge Anne Hirsch to set bail at $2 million.

“Just the sheer number, I’ve never seen a defendant come into the court with this many robberies,” Thompson said.

Hirsch agreed that Collier posed a significant threat to the safety of the community and set bail at $1 million. If Collier posts bail, he’ll need to appear in court to establish other conditions of release.

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Zoe, man’s best & most loyal friend (circa Oct, 2010)

Olympia officers found two guns when they arrested Collier: One was loaded and on his person, and the other was found in his car, Thompson said. The gun found in the car was reported stolen in the 1980’s.

“That suggests that he has access to firearms that are not legally tracked,” Thompson said.

The Olympia Police Department gave the following account of the events leading to Collier’s arrest:

During all but one of the robberies, the suspect displayed a handgun, wore a mask and had a hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head. In a November robbery, the suspect fired his gun during a struggle with a Pizza Time employee. No one was injured.

Detectives and analysts from multiple agencies — Olympia Police Department, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Puyallup Police Department, Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, Kent Police Department and the FBI — began investigating the robberies together in October, piecing together information from the various robberies.

An Olympia officer noticed a suspicious dark sedan driving slowly through a west Olympia bank parking lot. The officer lost sight of the vehicle in heavy traffic. About 30 minutes later, Columbia Bank in Lacey was robbed at gunpoint.

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Eric & Trisha during happier times (circa mid-2014)

Officers learned that the license plate of the suspicious vehicle didn’t match the car. The sedan was seen again at local banks.

On 1-10-15, detectives identified a gray sedan believed to belong to the robbery suspect.

Officers soon learned the sedan’s license plates weren’t registered to any vehicles, but were traded in and resold at the Olympia Auto Mall. Later that month (1-20-15), detectives spotted what they believed to be the same grey sedan and followed it to a house in Shelton. When the driver pulled out of his garage a short time later, detectives noticed the car had switched license plates.

After detectives followed the vehicle to a residence in Shelton, then to a bank in West Olympia, Collier was arrested while walking from the car to the bank. Police claim he was wearing similar clothing to that worn at the previous robberies and he was armed. Eric Collier was booked into Thurston County Jail on suspicion of 8 counts of 1st degree robbery, but it appears many more counts may be lodged against the defendant after further investigation is completed as he is suspected of robberies in Pierce and King counties.

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Eric & Trisha, circa mid-2014

Thurston County Jail data:

Eric Michael Collier

COURT:   SUPERIOR COURT
CAUSE NUMBER:   151001021
CHARGE:   THEFT 3RD DEGREE
BAIL:   $170000, BONDABLE
ARREST DATE:   1/20/2015
COURT:   SUPERIOR COURT
CAUSE NUMBER:   151001021
CHARGE:   THEFT 1ST DEGREE
BAIL:   $170000, BONDABLE
ARREST DATE:   1/20/2015
COURT:   SUPERIOR COURT
CAUSE NUMBER:   151001021
CHARGE:   ROBBERY 1ST DEGREE WHILE ARMED WITH A DEADLY WEAPON
BAIL:   $170000, BONDABLE
ARREST DATE:   1/20/2015
COURT:   SUPERIOR COURT
CAUSE NUMBER:   151001021
CHARGE:   KIDNAPPING 1ST DEGREE WHILE ARMED
BAIL:   $160000, BONDABLE
ARREST DATE:   1/20/2015
COURT:   SUPERIOR COURT
CAUSE NUMBER:   151001021
CHARGE:   ATTEMPTED ROBBERY 1ST DEGREE
BAIL:   $170000, BONDABLE
ARREST DATE:   1/20/2015
COURT:   SUPERIOR COURT
CAUSE NUMBER:   151001021
CHARGE:   ASSAULT 2ND DEGREE WHILE ARMED
BAIL:   $160000, BONDABLE
ARREST DATE:   1/20/2015
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Eric Michael Collier, 35, in Thurston Co. Jail custody

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Charlize Theron & Christina Ricci in Girl Meets Girl Scene

Charlize Theron & Christina Ricci star in one of the best directed/acted Girl Meets Girl scenes ever.

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1% Holds Half the World’s Wealth/Resources

Waste pickers look for recyclable items at a landfill on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. A report by Oxfam says  not enough is being done by world leaders to tackle inequality. Photo / AP

Waste pickers look for recyclable items at a landfill on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. A report by Oxfam says not enough is being done by world leaders to tackle inequality.

by Kunal Dutta

The combined wealth of the world’s richest 1% will overtake that of the remaining 99% by 2016 unless action is taken to curb “shocking extremes” of inequality, a new report warns.

The richest 1% currently own 48% of all global wealth, Oxfam says. Next year that figure is forecast to exceed 50% for the first time.

Using data from Credit Suisse’s latest global wealth report, the charity warns that rising inequality is holding back the fight against global poverty at a time when more than a billion people still live on less than US$1.25 a day.

The report warns that global wealth “is becoming increasing concentrated among a small, wealthy elite”.

The richest 1 per cent include US investor Warren Buffett, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and Indian businessman Dilip Shanghvi. Those in the “1 per cent” command an average wealth of US$2.7 million per adult.

The report is released today ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Oxfam will use the summit in Switzerland to call for new measures to tackle global inequality, including a clampdown on tax evasion and a living wage for all workers.

Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, said: “The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering, and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast. Failure to tackle inequality will set the fight against poverty back decades.

“The poor are hurt twice by rising inequality – they get a smaller share of the economic pie and because extreme inequality hurts growth, there is less pie to be shared around.”

Lynn Forester de Rothschild, chief executive of E L Rothschild, said: “Extreme inequality undermines economic growth and it threatens the private sector’s bottom line.

“All those gathering at Davos who want a stable and prosperous world should make tackling inequality a top priority.”

Oxfam research shows that 20% of billionaires have interests in the financial and insurance sectors, a group which saw their cash wealth increase by 11% in the 12 months to March 2014.

The charity made headlines at Davos last year with the revelation that the world’s 85 richest people were as wealthy as the poorest 50%. This year, it claims that number has shrunk to 80 as the world becomes more unequal.

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Miami sniper training using target practice mugshots halted

Police in North Miami have suspended a sniper training program after it was revealed that trainees used old mugshots of black suspects during target practice.

The pictures, which featured inmates who had been arrested more than a decade ago, were discovered by a member of the National Guard who saw a bullet-riddled photo of her brother at the gun range used by police in early December.

Army Sgt. Valerie Deant told reporters she broke down in tears when she saw her brother Woody Deant, who was arrested 15 years ago, pictured in a lineup of other suspects with bullet holes through his forehead and eyes.

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Family outraged after North Miami Beach Police use criminal photos as #HumanTargets. VIDEO: http://on.nbc6.com/0mqG5F1

by Andrew Mach 1-17-15

While North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis launched an internal investigation into the program in late December, it wasn’t until Friday after swelling public outcry that he formally halted the program.

“I immediately suspended the sniper training program as we conduct a thorough review of our training process and materials, ordered commercially produced training images, and opened an investigation into the matter,” Dennis said in a statement.

But Dennis said that none of the department’s policies were violated and that no disciplinary action will be taken.

He also said the grid of 22 target photos also included images of whites, Hispanics and even Osama bin Laden.

“We’ll have six pictures of people who will look very similar,” Dennis told NBC Miami. “We have an array for black males, we have an array of white and Hispanic males. And the purpose for this is to be able that they can have the sniper identify a particular individual that they’re given a small picture of and looking down range at this array of six to be able to pick the proper target out based on what was presented to them in intelligence.”

Amid a climate of strained relationships between police and minority communities across the country, Dennis released on Friday a 22-point memo with facts about the sniper program, in which he insisted the training was not racially motivated.

“This was not a race issue,” the memo said. “There was no mal-intent or prejudice involved. The same target inventory has been used for more than a decade.”

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